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Peel Weekly News: Datathon engages arts community in Mississauga

Published in Peel Weekly News on September 23, 2021

Members of Mississauga’s arts and culture communities had a chance to weigh in on the benefits of arts for mental health during a virtual Datathon hosted by Mass Culture and the Mississagua Arts Council (MAC).

The Datathon, held over three days in early September, brought together thirty-five participants through three Data Parties during the Datathon and collected ninety-three resources, tools, research papers, and frameworks on the benefits fo arts to mental health.

The resources will inform the content for the Arts for Mental Health Conference which will be hosted by MAC and Mass Culture on October 6.

“Inviting Artists, academics, and practitioners to contribute towards a collective literacy review of resources on arts and mental health not only greatly assists us in building a repository of information on the subject matter, but demonstrates that there is a keen interest in coming together to exchange, learn about and use research,” says Robin Sokoloski, Mass Culture’s Director of Organizational Development.

Members of the Datathon team said earlier this month that the goal of the project was to collect as much information on the relationship between arts and mental health as possible, with a number of books, academic papers, and toolkits collected during the event.

The project will also spearhead a possible ArtsCare program that would provide much-needed services to artists living in the city, said MAC Executive Director, Mike Douglas.

“What would an ArtsCare program look like? How much would it save the overstressed health care system? By diverting large numbers of potential patients into beneficial, low-cost creative experiences, we are also able to employ precariously underemployed professional artists,” said Douglas.

“MAC envisions a program that would aim to make creative experiences and services available to physicians and community health agencies through a web-based referral system and prescription support service…the diverse resources discovered through this Datathon will be vital to the development of this pilot ArtsCare program.”

Data from the event will also help inform an upcoming Arts for Mental Health Conference, which will be hosted on October 6.